UK charity supports surge in demand for IDF rehab centres

Beit Halochem UK has raised over £2.5m to fund rehabilitation programmes for injured Israeli veterans


Itay Sagy, who is being supported by Beit Halochem

Beit Halochem, the Israeli charity dedicated to rehabilitating injured veterans, has since the October 7 atrocity, seen an unprecedented increase in demand for its services, having to “nearly double” the number of programmes it offers, the chief executive of its UK wing has said.

Approximately 13,000 soldiers, reservists, police officers, and rapid-response squad members have been wounded since the Hamas terror attack, with more than 3,400 veterans admitted into Beit Halochem, which directly translates to “House of Warriors”.

A recent 36-hour match fundraising campaign by the UK arm of the charity, Beit Halochem UK, raised a staggering £2.2 million, since rising to over £2.5 million, from over 2,700 individual donors, about 65 per cent of whom were first time donors to the charity. 

The money will go towards funding its broad range of physical, mental, social and educational programmes.

Spencer Gelding, chief executive of Beit Halochem UK, told the JC: “We’d never done a campaign such as this before and hope to never again, but we were totally and utterly blown away with the result. People up and down the country got involved, as well as Jews abroad, who had heard about the campaign we were doing and wanted to contribute.

“We had a major fundraising dinner in June, and so we were effectively asking people to now give twice within a few months, which made the total all the more impressive. The generosity of our community has been phenomenal and is allowing us to make an immediate and tangible impact on the brave young men and women defending Israel.”

Since being established in 2012, Beit Halochem UK has raised approximately £30 million to support state-of-the-art facilities, initiatives and equipment for the charity’s four rehabilitation centres in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva.

Beit Halochem suffered heavily in the wake of October 7. 16 members were killed, 21 children and six grandchildren of members murdered, one member taken hostage and four relatives of members abducted by Hamas.

One of its new members, 25-year-old Itay Sagy, sustained critical injuries to the neck and shoulder from a Hamas grenade during the Battle of Zikim Beach on October 11, where just four days previously, 19 beachgoers were murdered.

Itay and his team in the elite Sayeret Maglan Brigade were among the first units sent to war in the immediate aftermath of October 7, tasked with clearing the territories surrounding the Gaza Strip of lingering terrorists.

His team of normally 24 were ambushed while at half-strength by members of Nukhba, a special forces unit of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade, the military wing of Hamas, and proceeded to hold them off until reinforcements were able to arrive.

Six members of his unit were injured in the coastal firefight, and for several minutes, a cornered Itay fought eight terrorists alone, killing at least two, before a grenade landed in front of him.

Itay said: “I flew up in the air, and when I came to found myself lying on the ground, unable to move or breathe, nothing was working. I had an out of body experience, looking at myself, and watching my friends already coming to my aid beside me. I knew I needed to join them.

“After half a minute, I came back and began to breathe again while we were still under heavy fire. A combat medic friend jumped at me and told me my neck was torn open from side to side, and he somehow stopped the bleeding.”

Eventually, the rest of his team arrived and terminated the remaining terrorists. Three members of Itay’s team, Itay Moreno, Daniel Kastiel, Ido Kaslasi, were killed in the fight.

While in hospital, Itay was visited by Beit Halochem and invited to his first event.

Itay said: “I went and it was amazing. I love the people there. The injured who go to Beit Halochem find a real sense of purpose there, and it’s a place they can go to reliably be around other people like them. There’s not a lot of places in the world like it, and I so appreciate all that they do.”

There are more than 54,000 injured Israelis who are members of Beit Halochem. A fifth and final rehabilitation centre is currently under construction in Ashdod and will recognised as the national centre for PTSD in Israel.

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